Thrive by IU Health

August 23, 2023

A nurse is climbing mountains after pain intervention surgery

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

A nurse is climbing mountains after pain intervention surgery

Brian Ison has worked at Indiana University Health Jay Hospital as a physical therapist for 25 years. As a supervisor for rehab services, he’s normally treating patients and improving their quality of life. But recently, he found himself on the receiving end of care.

In October 2022, Ison began to feel a surging pain in his hamstrings. “It was just one of those things where I was like, okay, I’m old. I’m just going to push through it. But it developed into shooting pain from the boney part of the butt all the way down to the mid part of the right hamstring. It became extremely painful.”

Ison follows a very active exercise regimen, walking, running or hiking six days a week. He believed that his hamstring strain was from an over-exertion of the muscle. To cope, Ison put his physical therapy knowledge to use, “I did a lot of stretching. I would modify the strengthening exercises and back off on the intensity of the workout.”

When Ison reached out to his primary care physician, he was told to continue doing his therapy exercises. The idea of an injection was mentioned, but not seriously considered.

“I was self-treating it for at least six to eight months with no relief. It got to the point where even sitting at work became painful, and I didn’t want to leave town because I knew I just couldn’t tolerate it. My family and I had planned for a big trip for the summer to go to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. We were planning on hiking, biking, kayaking and driving. I knew I couldn’t go with the pain I was having. I knew I needed more than what traditional pain management could offer.”

When Ison discussed his pain and upcoming travel plans with his doctor, he was referred to Ankit Bhatia, DO. Bhatia is a pain medicine and anesthesiology physician at IU Health Ball Memorial Interventional Pain Services.

A few months later, Ison had his consultation with Bhatia. “I sat down with him and explained everything,” says Ison. Bhatia explained that an injection would help Ison’s condition. Even though it was an uncommon procedure Bhatia had done it before and Ison agreed to the surgery.

Bhatia performed a steroid based injection on Ison that helped to reduce the inflammation in the muscle. “It’s just like an anti-inflammatory medication that they were able to inject to the points of where the pain originates,” says Ison.

“They did it under fluoroscopy, or X-ray, so they are able to pinpoint exactly where the pain starts and inject the steroid with precision,” Ison says. “The procedure was done in the Ball outpatient surgery center. Bhatia had a physician assistant in radiology, nurses and techs to assist him. That was the main difference between Dr. Bhatia and the other doctors we have for traditional pain management. Interventional pain management is different than just pain management and pumps. He does a lot of injections that can more precisely intervene with the pain and stop it, while traditional pain management focuses more on how to work through the pain.”

The relief was almost instantaneous. That same day, Ison had a family trip planned to explore Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Ison was able to sit through the entire six-hour car ride and could join his family on the hiking excursions. “My quality of life is back to 100%. No problems whatsoever. I’m back to my normal fitness routine, sitting, able to go wherever, no limitations.”

Three months later, Ison was able to join his family on their planned vacation to the Upper Penisula. “It was just gorgeous, and I’m so thankful for the pain intervention options,” says Ison. “If we didn’t have the medical intervention, either we wouldn’t have made the trip at all, or if we did, we would have had to modify it, and wouldn’t have been able to do any of the hiking, kayaking and biking.

Ison has learned a lot from his experience at the surgery center, and he is now applying his knowledge to helping his own patients. “Having the ability to refer on to a specialist was something I needed to learn.” He says, “and since then, I’ve had several patients with similar types of pain, and I can now refer them to the same care plan I received.”

“If you’re not getting the results you are hoping for, have the conversation with your provider.” Ison advises, “there’s other options out there for you to improve your quality of life. Everybody feels like when they go to pain management, this is the last resort. They’re going to put me on long term narcotics, long term pain medications, it’s going to impact my life. Fortunately, there’s other options that interventional pain management can offer.”

Related Services

Featured Providers

View More Providers